Dakine Nomad Hydration Pack Review

If any one hydration pack can function as a jack-of-all-trades and still do every single job superbly, the Dakine Nomad is it.

Epic all-day trail ride in the backcountry? Check.

A day at the bike park? Check.

Sessioning a remote DH line? Check.

Short after work spin on the singletrack? Why not?

Dakine has thoughtfully engineered the Nomad to appeal to all sorts of riders from cross country to downhill. In order to appeal to all of those demographics, they incorporated a carrier for a full-face helmet that can also function as an XC helmet carrier with space for extra layers or even your shoes on the way to the trail. Armor carriers hang below the pack, but stay tucked out of sight if you don’t want to use them. A full 100 ounce bladder ensures you won’t get dehydrated on an epic trek and 1100 cubic inches of space guarantee you have plenty of room for those extra layers and emergency supplies. Finally, a mere 2 pound dry weight makes this pack perfectly fine for a quick after-work pedal, even if you don’t need all of the water and cargo space.

Out on the Trail

It’s so nice to use a pack that just plain works and doesn’t require any fiddling or excessive experimentation to figure out where to put everything. The internal organizer pockets are zippered to keep all of the little tools and parts that you need to carry separate, and specially-sized sleeves are already in place to hold both a mini pump and a spare tube. A fleece-lined sunglasses pouch is located safely on top of everything else for when the sun starts going down, and an mp3 holder sits just inside the top of the main storage compartment.

Dakine is serious about usability and design, and they naturally gave the reservoir a dedicated compartment separate from the main storage compartment. One of the greatest features that this pack offers is a stiff back panel with vented ridges that both eliminate barreling from the reservoir and promote airflow to keep your sweaty back as cool as possible. One added bonus that I noticed during a day in the bike park with the Nomad is that the stiff back panel and ridges seem to lock onto your back if you’re wearing a spine protector. The ridges are perfectly placed on either side of the spine protector, allowing the pack to stay firmly in place even if you’re busting through nasty rock gardens or launching booters!

For those epic cross country rides, the Nomad features the same swiss-cheese ventilation pattern on both the shoulder straps and the hip pads. While it’s difficult to quantify, I think this ventilation system significantly reduces perspiration.

But what if you don’t want to wear a waist belt? Well, the belt on the Nomad is removable, allowing it to ride much more comfortably when nearly empty.

Water Reservoir

I think I can safely say that out of every pack I’ve ever used, the Nomad is my favorite. Why does it stand out above the rest? Well, for all of the reasons listed above, for starters.

But in addition, the Nomad features the coolest and most intelligently designed reservoir on the market: Hydrapak’s Reversible Reservoir.

I’ve already blogged in detail about Hydrapak’s intelligent reservoir design, so I’ll just give you the Spark Notes this time around:

  • Durable
  • Quick disconnect hose
  • Strong fold-top closure
  • Completely reversible allowing it to dry quickly, be cleaned easily, and generally eliminate the build up of nast’.

Final Thoughts

All of these smart features allow this pack to function well for every type of rider, and with the best reservoir on the market, the Nomad is a winner. Despite the fact that it is on the large end of the hydration pack spectrum, the expertly designed back panel and straps help the Nomad ride almost as comfortably as a much, much smaller pack. Even though my test is done, I’m not sure I want to switch back to a smaller pack: the extra storage room is always appreciated!

All of my other packs are either gathering dust somewhere in the bottom of my closet or are being used as mere book bags for school. The Nomad is now my hydration pack of choice.

MSRP: $100.

Many thanks to Dakine for providing the Nomad for review!